Friday, May 30, 2014


Basically what I have left to do,
-Design final area.
-3 bosses
-2 songs.
-Remaining sounds
-One tileset
-Apply tiles to rooms
-9 H-animations
-CGs (5?)
-Ending sequence

So, still quite a bit. If I hadn't been sick for the past week I'd probably have more done. But that's life -__-

If hiring an artist solves anything, I hope it solves that feeling of stagnation that always seems to hit near the end of a project. It's like the feeling you get when you've played the same game too many times. It just gets boring after a while. The benefit of working with other people is that I'll be making a game with assets that aren't all mine.

As for a demo, I'm not sure when I'll release one. Before the game is done, for sure, but I still don't want to go as far as applying tilesets until the layout is final. I'll probably release a demo after everything is made, but before doing the CGs, music, sound, and H animations that will be in later areas. Meaning the demo will probably be around 10 days before the full game is released.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Another day, another major change to gameplay mid-development -__-

Specifically, I've made it so that enemies don't hurt you when you touch them (sort of like Kurovadis), but I've also made it so that enemies will flinch from attacks, interrupting their attack patterns.

I often thought that making enemies harmless upon contact limits the game's level design. After all, it removes enemies as an obstacle, and makes them easy to bypass. What would Castlevania be like without such enemies, after all?

Well, that kind of thinking is dumb, and now I feel sort of silly.

The thing is, certain games would suck if you made enemies harmless, but that's because the games aren't designed around it. Harmless enemies only make a game too easy if you're still make them move as if they hurt the player. As a designer, when contact is harmless you can make enemies move faster, and in more extreme patterns, because you don't have to worry about how it would effect the player directly. You also can have more enemies that actively pursue the player without it becoming impossible.

Likewise, making enemies flinch seems like it would make the game way easier. However it just makes things different. Including flinching means that there's more emphasis on enemy positions. For instance, you can have enemies attack from both sides, because the player can split their attention between the two, focusing on interrupting their attacks simultaneously. In combination with not getting hurt on contact, it allows for more scenarios where the player has to deal with multiple enemies, and act a bit more strategically on the fly, rather than thinking through a single action, and trying to execute it without messing up.

Also, I just noticed in that gif that there's 1-3 frames of the idle animation in mid-air. So...I need to go fix something -__-

Monday, May 19, 2014

Maps, rooms..

Just thought I'd go over my current method for making the map. So far, the process has been much different from previous games, and I'm still kind of new to this kind of planning.

Step one is to determine how many rooms you want, and come up with a vague idea of the shape of the map (the blocks don't actually represent the shape or scale of the rooms themselves) . This would be an example of a single area.

Next, I decide where locked "doors" will be. These can represent abilities, key cards, etc.

Then, I make a list of the enemies, traps and platforming based objects. Just simple visual representations so that I don't have to refer to a different list while brainstorming.

Starting with enemies I listed (black), I decide where each one might be first encountered. Since the player might be going in different directions, there are usually more than one of these "first encounters". These numbers signify where those encounters with the corresponding enemy are, and where I can start using that enemy in proceeding rooms. (for instance, since the first room is where you encounter enemy #1, it can be encountered anywhere.)

I try to space them so that the player will be encountering something different every next room or so.

Next, I do the same thing with traps, and other gameplay elements. I try and make it so that in any room where a new enemy isn't encountered, you encounter something else for the first time.

After this point you would add powerups, but I think you get the idea. This is just an arbitrary example with no real thought behind it, but it's basically what the planning process ends up looking like. It's more or less just a means of giving you a framework to work with when designing the levels, rather than feeling like everything is uncertain.

 After all that, I design each room in a basic form, and test them.

After testing the rooms, connecting them, and testing them together, balancing them, etc, I finally add the tileset. You could get someone else to playtest it before adding the tileset, but I think that in this kind of game, the appearance of the areas plays a part in the experience.

Friday, May 16, 2014


"Oh, yeah, that looks about right"
-Dark Souls 2 artist

Monday, May 12, 2014

Metroidvanias, loops

It's pretty difficult to make layouts for metroidvanias. Interconnected areas, alternate paths, it's something that requires a lot of thought to do well. 

A lot of people call Kurovadis a Metroidvania, but I think it lacks a few of the key elements. For one thing, with the exception of one area, there are no alternate paths, it's linear. The most you can do in Kurovadis is go somewhere that you aren't supposed to be yet, and get a minor power up (which are the same as just leveling up) so you aren't just reaching a dead end. Another element it lacks, is any interconnectivity. Every "stage" has one only entrance, the exception being the mansion, which has an entrance you can't go back through, and an exit. It's still basically just entirely linear.

Here's what I would call a basic metroidvania "loop"

From the location the player starts in, there are two alternate paths, both leading to the same key item. However, both also contain optional items. This gives each path it's own significance, as opposed to simply being alternate "routes" to the same goal. That way, even if the player gets the key item and knows where they can go in order to progress, they may want to explore further.

Simple right? However, it isn't always so simple.

Sometimes the loop encompasses multiple paths, or parts of other loops, and the player may enter the loop from different locations.
And that's just coming up with the layout..

What if you have an enemy that's seen by the player for the first time in that loop? In a linear game, the first encounter is often the easiest, and the player adapts to harder encounters with the enemy over time. But in a loop, the player could be coming from multiple directions. So where do you put that "first" encounter with the enemy? Everywhere? At every entrance? Do you put on your sunglasses and tell them to deal with it?

The answer is the all encompassing vague game design answer "It depends..."

Thus far, making a good layout is something I'm still struggling with. However, I think it's also something that's very important for me to learn to do properly. The more I know about making a good map, the more I can go back to worrying about making good rooms/levels, without being unsure of their place in the grand scheme of things.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Trial and error.

Just thought I'd show you what it looks like when I create a character without anything in particular in mind, and the the many steps of "this is isn't good enough" until until I eventually come to a point where I'm satisfied.

Generally the initial stages look awful, and I have to sort of work out what I'm even going for. You can see that as it gets narrowed down, it becomes increasingly more difficult to decide what changes are making it look better, and which are just "different". This stage is the hardest, because you could spend a long time tweaking stuff.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Drawing practice.

Seems like lately the length of my work days end up being dictated by how long it takes for my hand to get sore -__-

I feel like having something good to play on my second monitor is often the difference between being able to focus for hours at a time, and being distracted by my own thoughts. Unless I'm programming or making music, something like drawing doesn't actually require too much attention. It seems like even if your mind is elsewhere, as long as your eyes are focused on the artwork, your brain can just sort of connect the dots in the background.

I need to find more stuff to listen to while I work. Something with a huge backlog that will last....weeks..
Twitch streams tend to be handy. They're often 2-3 hours in length, so I can get through an entire large sprite or two.

Any recommendations?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Now then.

Okay people! *clap* clap* back to work, show's over! Move along! The last thing we need are monitors hanging from the ceiling, strung up by computer mouses.

Now that that's out of my system, I'm going to get back to work (Well back to working "more", anyway. I work everyday). You won't be hearing much from me until the game or the final demo is done, so until then, let me leave you with a different subject.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, after I finish this game I will not be returning to the previous game immediately. I want to work on another game in the span of 2 months, but with an artist to speed things along, returning to the previous game after it's completed. Then I can hire an artist , as well as a writer or someone to do cutscenes.

However, as much as I want to try the whole rogue-lite idea next, that's unfamiliar territory for me, at least in terms of finishing one. So, chances are the game I make after this will still be another platformer. That said, what sounds more interesting to you.

-A game based around interacting with items and enemies through throwing (think mischief makers), picking them up, throwing them, seeing how they effect the environment. An example would be catching a missile in mid-air and throwing it back, or grabbing an apple that fell from a tree, and using it to lure a monster away from a chest. Or throwing a wooden enemy into fire.

-A game based around hand-to-hand combat. Launching an enemy into the air, jumping off of him as a platform to reach an airborn enemy, hitting that enemy with a combo, ending in a downwards smash that hits all the enemies around you because you were so high. This sort of combat works well with leveling up and increasing stats, because enemies can take more hits. Unlike Kurovadis, where enemies can just go from taking 3 hits to 2, to 1, etc. You would a much more gradual, but instantly noticeable difference when leveling up.

-A game based around teaching a character stuff by using items or actions, and then watching them deal with scenarios based on what you taught them, having only a small degree of influence over physical objects yourself. Is there a heavy rock in the way? Well, she tries to move it and fails, because you never increased her strength. So, she goes a different path, only to encounter a mugger. Luckily, you gave her a frying pan when trying to get her to cook, and she's aggressive, so she just hits him over the head with it. Or, perhaps you sabotage her by distracting her before she hits him. You bastard. The game would probably be short, but have a lot of different paths and things to do.

- A stealth game. Because ninjas. Fighting would be sub-optimal, but very deliberate and possible with skill. Gameplay would be mostly based around one-shotting enemies from stealth, hiding, stealing, using tools, etc. Might have situations based around wearing disguises, and needing to do things in order to infiltrate buildings. For instance a soldier approaches you, and you could seduce him and take his keys in the process. Or you could just murder everyone, whichever..

There are other concepts, but I want to wait until I've got more people for those.

Anyhow, back to work..

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Good day, perhaps.

I might be working on a form of media at some point today. The protagonist is a male/female inanimate/living person/object who may or may not interact with other such entities. No promises.

This might be a screenshot.

Not of the form of media as it will be when it might be released, but what it is now, or rather what it was when I took the screenshot, if that's even what it is. I can't say for sure...they are watching..the semantic snipers....

Anyhow, I think I'm hungry (when I wrote this), so I'm going to try and go eat lunch. No promises.

That out of the way, I "will" not be refraining from talking about plans in the future. This is a dev journal, that's the point. However I "will" try and refrain from saying "will", because apparently some people interpret a development journal as a form of legal document. "May" and "might" are all the rage these days.

In other news, here's what needs to be done before the game reaches a minimum amount of completion. (not talking about a demo)
- 2 or 3 more H-enemies
- 5 non-H enemies
- 3 bosses
- 3 songs
- 2 areas
- 4 small tilesets
- 4 destroyable props
- 3 animated CGs
- Re-implement options screen from previous game
- Gallery
- Non-permanent powerups
-The sound design for all of the above.

At this point, the "framework" of the game is done, outside of minor powerups, and now it's just a matter of adding the rest of the content. Getting to this point is generally the most time consuming, because it involves the most programming and design oriented problems. It may not be much more work theoretically, but generally I'm more productive when creating things from scratch, as opposed to trying to get something to work for the majority of a day.

The only thing that will still require more attention is the bosses, since they generally behave differently than other enemies, or have more complicated patterns.

No ping pong bosses this time, I swear -__-